Bang in the middle of Sheffield city centre, but tucked up a street containing mainly student accommodation, is the Devonshire Cat.
Newly-refurbished in contemporary, somewhat rustic style with a central boxed bar, the welcoming pub encourages you to linger.
We called by for lunch and, somewhat jaded, were revived quickly by the ambience and friendly attentive service.
The Cat has a simply enormous range of cask and keg beers, and a formidable array of specialist whiskies.
Cocktails are blended by trained staff at a competitive city price of around £6.50 each.
But anything goes and one of our party was keen for tea, of all things. She received a good, hot pot of Earl Grey, with biscuit to boot.
On the food side, the emphasis is on freshly prepared fare, sourced locally and served in simple rustic style, with small plates and side dishes alongside mains, and a few siren puds for those who like a sweet finish.
The beer speciality theme is echoed in several dishes.
We chose to start with a much-savoured chicken liver pâté, and whitebait, crisp, tangy and plentiful, with impressive home-made lemon mayo and watercress.
For mains, our choices were a chicken and mushroom ‘speciality’ pie of the day with mushed peas and lovely thick gravy, a vegetarian roast chestnut and mushroom cottage pie with green beans and braised red cabbage, and the Devonshire Cat Heathen Sandwich.
I relished the cottage pie, comfort food at its best, and happily, I could taste the chestnuts. The chicken pie received a thumbs up too, packed with chunks of tender meat and mushrooms, but it finally outfaced my daughter. The generous serving of mash on the plate was a creamy 10.
Chips with the Heathen sandwich were a touch too salty, but the chicken thigh and Moss Valley belly pork roasted in Heathen pale ale and encased in thick bread wedges was succulent.
We succumbed to a three-way share of the ‘drunken sticky toffee pudding’ made with Yorkshire Blackout, with Bradwells ice cream and espresso-infused toffee sauce. It was a satisfyingly soaked sponge with just the right blend of toffee and coffee in the sauce, offset by cooling vanilla ice cream.
The Cat, owned by Abbeydale Brewery since 2013, was one of Sheffield’s first real ale pubs and it continues to build solidly on reputation, for food too.
Our bill was £55, including drinks.